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Phoebe Cates' pool scene is an unforgettable part of "Fast Times at Ridgemont High."
Phoebe Cates' pool scene is an unforgettable part of "Fast Times at Ridgemont High."

Sex Week cinema: "Fast Times at Ridgemont High"

March may be cold, but it's hot and heavy here at OnMilwaukee.com as we celebrate our first-ever Sex Week. We're taking a mature look at local video and sex toy shops, area strip clubs, sexy Milwaukee events -- and even some connections between Brew City and Playboy magazine. It's serious, responsible, adult-themed content -- but don't worry, parents, we'll keep it PG-13 in case junior stumbles upon these stories as OnMilwaukee.com turns a pale shade of blue for seven days.

I know we say it a lot at OnMilwaukee.com, but it bears repeating:

Sometimes, this job ain't too bad.

Over the past few weeks, we spent a lot of time in the editorial office talking about sex -- all in the pursuit of journalism. We had substantive, serious discussions. And we had plenty laughs, some of them straight out of the junior high school locker room.

At some point, we decided that everybody should write a personal blog this week about a favorite sexy scene from a movie, a sexy story or some kind of memorable episode.

I figured that movies was a safe bet. So, I started to think about the usual suspects: "9 ½ Weeks," "No Way Out," "Unfaithful" and a bunch of other films that have kept Mr. Skin in business.

Then, I thought back to my high school days and a movie that had a profound impact on members of my generation -- whether they realized it or not.

I think I was a junior when Cameron Crowe, a writer I've come to admire, wrote the movie "Fast Times at Ridgemont High," which was directed by Amy Heckerling. At the time of its release, "Fast Times" was a bit controversial (it originally garnered an X rating) and, of course, hugely popular among people at my high school.

When you think about "Fast Times" today, you probably remember Sean Penn's portrayal of surfer/stoner Jeff Spicoli, the appearance of future stars like Forest Whitaker, Anthony Edwards, Eric Stoltz and even Nicolas Cage (Nicolas Coppola in the credits), who had a cameo as "Brad's Bud."

If you happen to be male, there is a good chance you also think about Phoebe Cates and her incredible red bikini. That scene was unforgettable. It is seared into the brain of just about every red-blooded American guy who was a teenager in the early 1980s, many of whom feel an unexplained and uncontrollable tingle when The Cars' "Movin' in Stereo" hits the car radio.

At the same time, it carried a dark undertone that catapulted the movie beyond high school slapstick and sexual farce.

As you may or may not recall, Cates' character, Linda Barrett, revealed her incredible "upper deck" in a fantasy sequence as Judge Reinhold's character was fantasizing about her in a bathroom overlooking the family swimming pool. Moments later, Cates walked in on Reinhold's character, catching him in the act -- an incredibly awkward and painful scene that symbolized Reinhold's fall from confident, successful senior to a schlep who had lost his job, his girlfriend and his dignity.

Reinhold's situation was enough to make viewers queasy, but no more than the two sex scenes involving his sister, the central character in the film, Stacy Hamilton, played by Jennifer Jason Leigh.

Eager to "grow up" while heading into her first year of high school, 15-year-old Stacy befriends the older, more worldly Cates while working at a pizza restaurant. Urged on by Cates' seeming expertise, Stacy befriends an older stereo salesman named Ron Johnson, who romances her and ends up taking her virginity at a place called "The Point," which was actually a Little League field.

Aside from depicting what may have been a statutory rape, the scene was awkward and painful and even a bit confusing. Why would a guy seemingly in his early 20s have to take a girl to high school make-out spot in order to "score?"

Stacy ends up getting dumped by the stereo dude. Later in the film, she initiates an unsatisfying sexual encounter with Mike Damone, a shady doofus who is a friend of Mark Ratner, the nice boy she realizes that she should have been with all along. After her encounter with Damone, she gets pregnant and has an abortion, which is depicted as a lonely, somewhat horrifying experience.

Though there are plenty of low-brow moments in "Fast Times," the depiction of sex is awkward and authentic, right down to the fact that the teenage characters think they know everything but really aren't emotionally equipped to handle the sexy side of adulthood. Heckerling shows that there are consequences, just as in real life.

Sexy themes and teen movies are an obvious moneymaker. A lot of films have tried to tap that vein -- "Losin' It," "The Last American Virgin," "Risky Business" and the more recent "American Pie" movies all gave it a shot.

None of them, however, strike the notes that Crowe and Heckerling strike in "Fast Times." We can debate whether "Fast Times" is the funniest of all the "coming of age" comedies to come down the pike. But, I don't think I've seen one with a smarter, more realistic approach on a subject that never gets old.

Talkbacks

sandstorm | March 9, 2009 at 12:28 p.m. (report)

one of the greatest non sex scene breast shots in movies.
rivals jamie lee curtis in Trading Places.

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Milly | March 9, 2009 at 9:40 a.m. (report)

I forgot all of those up-and-coming stars were in that film (Nick Cage?!) I need to watch this film again sometime.

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Red_5 | March 9, 2009 at 9:22 a.m. (report)

34565 It was Damone who got Stacy pregnant during the awkward sexual encounter not Ron Johnson.

Aloha Mr. Hand

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